Is it possible to fall in love with someone by going through a sequence of activities by asking questions and then stare at each other in the eyes for four minutes? Sounds implausible right? In an article titled, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” reporter Mandy Len Catron tried out an experiment designed by psychologist Author Aron. The experiment takes about 45 minutes to 2 hours and can work with two strangers. Here’s how it works: the people ask each other a series of 36 questions. Some of the questions are thought-provoking, others are really personal. The point is that as you probe deeper into the questions, you’re opening yourself up to the other person in which you explore each other’s vulnerabilities. As Catron puts it:
We all have a narrative of ourselves that we offer up to strangers and acquaintances, but Dr. Aron’s questions make it impossible to rely on that narrative. Ours was the kind of accelerated intimacy I remembered from summer camp, staying up all night with a new friend, exchanging the details of our short lives. At 13, away from home for the first time, it felt natural to get to know someone quickly. But rarely does adult life present us with such circumstances.
Next, you stare in each other’s eyes for four minutes in silence.
Of course, this doesn’t make one instantly fall in love with the other person, but it does bring out a closeness and connection in a stronger and intimate—though not necessarily romantic—way.
This brings me to my question: falling in love isn’t a one-shot instantaneous event. At least, that’s never been my experience. Rather, falling in love takes time and sometimes you don’t realize you are in love until you reflect back on your time with your partner. But can you really fall in love with anyone? To fall in love, certain conditions have to be met: having a good time with the partner, seeing oneself having a robust concern for the partner, perhaps expanding one’s identity with the partner where the people involved see each other as a “we” instead of two individual “I’s”, or maybe seeing each other in the partner where there is an extreme compatibility. Now can a series of questions, and then staring in each other’s eyes meet those conditions? Well, looking at the questions, it seems that one learns what those answers are as the relationship develops. If one answers those questions within a two hour period instead of weeks- or months-period, perhaps one can meet those conditions faster. Staring into each other’s eyes makes one vulnerable, but it gives you a sense of the other person’s vulnerabilities too.
Of course, Aron’s study specifically talks about closeness and stronger connection rather than falling in love, but is bringing about a closeness and connection as simple as asking the right questions to reveal more about each other? Think about a computer program. You give it a series of commands and then it can perform a function. In the same way, these questions are like “commands” where it can “trigger” the emotional self/brain to do something.